March 2023 (Vol. 13., No. 1)

March 2023 (Vol. 13., No. 1)

Volume 13, Number 1
March 2023

Editors’ Note
Kate Masur and Gregory Downs

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Bryan LaPointe

A Right to Speak: Formerly Enslaved People and the Political Antislavery Movement in Antebellum America

By running away, fugitive slaves have long been recognized as important figures in exacerbating sectional tensions and sparking the Civil War. But the political impact of runaway and formerly enslaved people extended well beyond their absconding. This essay explores how their lives in and escapes from slavery powerfully influenced the growth of formal antislavery politics. Fugitive and former slaves, along with their white political allies, used their enslaved experiences to build political opposition to slavery. Formerly enslaved men became vocal speakers for political abolitionist coalitions, convincing listeners to support antislavery politics. Women escapees from slavery, too, pushed white antislavery politicians to adopt more visceral political language. Former slaves’ political activism brought a humane dimension to antislavery politics, forcing the nation to see the political struggle against slavery through their eyes and experiences.

Keywords: Fugitive slaves, slavery, antislavery politics, Liberty Party, Republican Party, Henry Bibb, Henry Highland Garnet, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Matilda, Mary Mildred Williams, Owen Lovejoy, Charles Sumner

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Camille Suárez

A Legal Confiscation: The 1851 Land Act and the Transformation of Californios into Colonized Colonizers

In 1848, the US Senate ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which held that treaty citizens’ land claims would be “inviolably respected.” Three years later the US Senate passed the 1851 Land Claims Act, which violated the treaty by requiring private Mexican land grant holders to prove the legitimacy of their claims to the US Land Commission. This article examines Anglo-American and Californio settlers’ efforts to establish legitimate landholding practices according to their culturally specific racial logic. By tracing encounters between the commission and Californios, this article argues that through their participation in the land claims process, Californios became “colonized colonizers” and were instrumental to state-making in California.

Keywords: Californios, Colonized Colonizers, 1851 Land Claims Act, US Land Commission, Pablo de la Guerra, Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, John C. Fremont, William Gwin

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Elizabeth R. Varon

The “Bull-Dog” in Istanbul: James Longstreet’s Revealing Tour as US Minister to Turkey, 1880–81

Modern historians have overlooked Confederate-turned-Republican James Longstreet’s brief tour as U.S. Minister to Turkey. But this chapter of Longstreet’s life warrants close consideration. Longstreet’s sojourn took place at a fraught moment of transition in U.S.-Ottoman relations, with regard to the treatment of missionaries, and provides a new perspective on that transition, and on the reactive, ad hoc nature of American diplomacy in this era. Moreover, Longstreet’s performance as minister, and his return home to take up a new position as U.S. Marshal in Georgia, illustrate his enduring efforts to sustain Republicanism, and his role as an influential, iconoclastic political operative, determined to chart a new course for the South. Finally, his diplomatic sojourn reveals the limits of the Republican party’s reach, as Longstreet struggled to project power on the U.S. government’s behalf, either in the American South or the international stage.

Keywords: Reconstruction, Republican party, Ottoman empire, missionaries, Greater Reconstruction, imperialism, nationalism, patronage, Orientalism

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Alaina E. Roberts

Black Slaves and Indian Owners: The Continuous Rediscovery of Indian Territory

This essay provides an analysis of historiographical trends in the study of the Five Tribes (the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Nations) and the Black women and men who were enslaved in, and part of, their nations in the Southeast and, after Indian Removal, in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). The author divides the scholarship she covers into two broad time periods: the 1930s to the 1970s and the 1980s to today. From work in the early 1900s that examined these Native people without real engagement with their practices of slaveholding to research today that uses the lenses of race, gender, and tribal sovereignty to excavate Black stories, the author pinpoints a key shift in the 1970s and 1980s resulting from the Black and Native activism of the day.

Keywords: Indian Territory, Oklahoma, Five Tribes, Black slaves, Indian owners, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw

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